I'd like to order a show with this same cast and an entirely new premise. Might that be possible? It's painful to watch dependable character actors like Tina Majorino, Billy Zane and Clancy Brown slog through the soap-opera mush of something like The Deep End when you know they're capable of so much more depth, or at least gusto. And I spent the whole pilot wondering where I'd seen that vibrant blonde (Leah Pipes, who was hilariously bitchy as the only good thing about the Sorority Row remake) and that lively redhead (Rachelle Lefevre, best known for being fired from the Twilight franchise but also a frequent TV guest star I remember best from Swingtown). Some casting director has done a damn good job of picking out promising young talent and reliable veterans and stranding them all in this crappy show.
Okay, they're not all winners: Two of the male leads (among the five first-year legal associates who make up the core cast) are seriously bland, and the third only appears in about a minute of the pilot, so I couldn't really assess his performance. But the ensemble's overall strength really highlights how boring the writing is, full of lame platitudes about love, careers and Doing the Right Thing. Half of the first episode is about serious (contrived) ethical dilemmas and job pressures, and the other half is about every character having sex with every other character. The soapy intrigue isn't campy enough to be fun (although Zane does chew plenty of scenery, as is his strength), and the twists of the legal cases are all completely absurd and overwrought.
The Deep End is being positioned as the Grey's Anatomy of lawyer shows, and while it's not quite as insufferable as the popular medical soap, it's got the potential. Right now, though, it's just a waste of talent.
Premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC.